Algeria Country Report
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is in poor health and his advisers are in the process of cementing his legacy prior to succession. His sidelining of the formerly powerful intelligence establishment, presented as a transition to civil democracy, should more accurately be considered as consolidating political power in a single centre, the presidency, backed by the army. Corruption levels are likely to remain severe, while low oil prices and a failure to diversify economically away from energy undermine the state's ability to contain protest risks through social spending. Improvements to the business environment are likely to accelerate given fiscal pressures, although radical change is unlikely. Algerian security forces have effectively reduced the domestic jihadist threat, but the riskof terrorist penetration from Libya, Mali, and Tunisia is high.
Algeria's operating environment is complicated by entrenched protectionist and resource nationalist policies and attitudes. Although legal barriers to non-hydrocarbon investment are likely to gradually be reduced, the state will maintain control over strategic sectors. Foreign investments are at risk of expropriation in the event of disputes with the government, or if they fail to perform to expectations. Administrative inefficiency, corruption, and an overburdened legal system pose obstacles for business. Security represents a major added cost for companies operating in remote areas. Strikes commonly affect the public sector, particularly the education and healthcare sectors.
Counter-terrorism and military operations have restricted the operational reach of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Islamic State affiliates based in the northeastern Kabylie region. These groups probably lack the capability to undertake an attack in a major city, and instead focus on localised attacks targeting the security forces, and kidnap for ransom and small-scale extortion of locals. In the southern desert, jihadist groups based in the border areas of Mali, Tunisia, and Libya retain the capability to penetrate deep into Algeria to carry out attacks, primarily against energy facilities.
Algeria is unable to entirely secure its extensive desert borders against militant penetration. Regional security co-operation remains weak, although Algeria has stepped up security co-operation with neighbouring states; for instance, jointly co-ordinating and sharing intelligence with Tunisian forces in the border area. On the Libyan side, this is problematic, given the prevalence of competing militias there and the absence of any effective state military forces. Algerian military co-operation with Malian, Nigerien, and Mauritanian forces is fairly limited, with established military doctrine giving primacy to enhancing frontier security rather than cross-border operations.
Triggers of mass social unrest generally include material factors, such as housing or unemployment, rather than any particular political agenda. Grievances over public services and quality of infrastructure prompt frequent localised protests, which tend to be small in scale. Violent protests and riots usually involve unco-ordinated groups and urban youths with little interaction from politicised opposition groups or labour unions, allowing them to be contained relatively easily. Political stability would begin to come under threat if such protests coincided with a disputed presidential succession or the emergence of co-ordinated anti-austerity protests.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and over one year of age and for travelers who have been in transit >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Algeria is highly vulnerable to floods. In 2001, flooding in the Algiers neighborhood of Bab El Oued left nearly 1000 people dead and caused major damage.
Earthquakes sometimes strike in the north of the country. On May 21, 2003, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 on the Richter scale left 2200 dead and 15,000 homeless in Boumerdès. Less violent earthquakes occur regularly. To learn more about what to do before, during, and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Snowfall may occur in the winter and can cause widespread transportation disruptions.
Algeria suffers from a high number of road-related fatalities due to poor road conditions and driving habits. Despite an improvement in road security measures over the past few years, the number of incidents remains high. The Ministry of the Interior reported that approximately 12 people die per day in traffic incidents, a rate of approximately 4380 deaths per year.
Travel by road outside of cities is not advised. If traveling by car is unavoidable, do so in a convoy of several vehicles equipped with emergency communication devices (e.g. satellite telephones). Roadside ambushes are infrequent but at least four separate incidents occurred in 2016, leaving several Algerian citizens dead. In all cases, it is preferable to travel with a local.
Military and police checkpoints are common on major roads within large cities and throughout the countryside. Security personnel at these checkpoints expect full cooperation. For these and other reasons, air travel is preferred inside the country.
If taking a taxi, ask your hotel to recommend a reliable company and do not allow other unknown passengers to join you during the journey. Arrange for the driver to collect you for the return journey as taxis are not widely available, particularly after dark.
Travel by train is possible between Algiers and Oran but is not recommended.
The SNCM ferry company (La Société Nationale Corse Méditerranée) serves both Algiers and Skikda from Marseille, and Oran from Alicante (Spain). The ferry transports both cars and people. It is advised to arrange for your pick up from the port of arrival in advance.
Algiers-Houari Boumediene International Airport (ALG) is located in the southeast of the capital and adheres to international air safety standards. While security measures are not on par with those of US airports, security personnel are present throughout the airport. The government has recently taken steps to improve airport security.
The north of the country, including along the coastline and the Tell Atlas mountain chain, has a Mediterranean climate (hot and dry summers, cool and wet winters). The high plateau regions in the center of the country are semi-arid while the area south of the Saharan Atlas chain is desert.
Temperatures can vary significantly within a single day, particularly in the Sahara Desert where temperatures can fluctuate between extremes in the space of a few hours (above 40°C during the day and below 5°C at night).
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz